aquet Droz. A brand not really made for Europe, focused mainly on the Asian market (the brand is extremely popular in Hong Kong and China). It seems that the brand is not extremely well accepted in our old continent. This is however regardless the intrinsic quality of the timepieces produced by Jaquet Droz (thanks to the Swatch Group, owner of the brand) and their natural elegance. We already reviewed some JD (here and here), but their last addition is clearly a very nice one. Enjoy our review of the new and handsome Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel, in 43mm and in red gold.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel is an elegant dress watch, even if some of its specifications are somewhat wide of our requirements for dress watches. In fact, it’s not a matter of design or features but more a subject of size. This watch exists in two sizes, 39mm and 43mm (the one we had). Our idea of a dress watch would lean more towards smaller timepieces – under 40mm – and thin cases. The JD Enamel is neither small nor thin. However, what pushes us to categorize it as a dress watch is the overall feeling on the wrist, both elegant, original and discreet.
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel comes with the usual ‘8-shape’ of the brand, meaning a small hour and minute counter and a large second sub-dial. This layout refers to antique pocket-watches created by Pierre Jaquet-Droz during the second part of the 18th century. When the brand came back to life in 2000, the choice of this layout was an intelligent (and elegant) way to create an identity to the brand and to have watches which would be easily recognizable. Most of them are now using this typical dial, with or without added complications (tourbillon, calendar or minute repeater) and in multiple materials (enamel, Geneva Stripes pattern, stones, paillonné enamel, ceramic).
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel might look very similar to other watches of the JD collection but it actually comes with improvements for its movement. Since its renewal, Jaquet Droz has been using movements based on a Frédéric Piguet calibre, that comes courtesy of Blancpain – also part of the Swatch Group. A very good movement (as we saw when reviewing the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde SW) but now Jaquet Droz has decided to implement new technologies and to introduce the new Calibre 2660Q2.P. It comes with Jaquet Droz typical layout, with an added date complication, but behind the dial can be found some interesting features, such as silicon and a double barrel. But we’ll get back on this part later in this review.
The other feature to point out is the dial – the superb ivory enamel dial we might say. This material, rare and difficult to manufacture, is the main reason of this Jaquet Droz’ charm, considering that the rest of the watch is close to the other editions already available. Together with the shape and the typical JD display, the package looks brilliant. Time now to have a closer look at it.
Dial and hands
Jaquet Droz offers an extremely large selection of materials for their dials. Whereas some brands elect to experiment with cases, displays and functions. The direction of JD is different: using a recognizable and now iconic dial layout in multiple materials, such as rare stones, paillonné enamel, Geneva stripes, ceramic or mother of pearl. For this new edition, the choice made is an ivory enamel which is more complicated to produced than it looks at first sight. Enamel is complicated to produce because it requires skilled hands and several firings in an oven (a technique called Grand Feu enamel). At each step of the firing, bubbles or cracks can appear in the material and all the process has to be done again from scratch. Enamel is thus a long, painstaking and risky process. But this is not enough for JD, as the dial of the Grande Seconde Quantieme is made of not one but two layers (see the recessed part for the large second). Furthermore, all the black inscriptions are also made of enamel (this is not a stamped lacquer like most of the watches).
The visual result is superb. The colour is warm – a soft creamy white – and the dial is textured, lively (due to the small imperfections inherent to enamel). This imperfect render is part of the charm of enamel and you have to accept some minor bumps and reliefs. The inscriptions are also extremely fine and precise, considering we’re talking about enamel.
As said before, the layout is typical Jaquet Droz, with a small hour sub-dial at 12 and a large second at 6, a legacy inspired by the ‘8-shape’ of Pierre Jaquet-Droz’ pocket watches. No worries to have, legibility and time reading are great. For this new edition, JD chose to add a useful indication,a pointer-type date display integrated in the large-second sub-dial. This addition gives a practical aspect to the watch without removing its natural purity. The hands, made in 18k gold matching the case, are very classical in their execution and well proportioned to the size of the sub-dials.
Case and strap
The Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel comes in 4 editions, meaning 2 different sizes and 2 different materials. You have the choice between a 39mm and a 43mm case and between 18k red gold and 18k white gold. Clearly, red gold presents a more beautiful visual aspect that matches perfectly with the soft and warm colour of the dial. White gold will be more neutral. The choice of the size is more a matter of taste. Whereas 39mm would be our natural choice for a dress watch, the thickness of the case – 12.1mm – creates a slightly unbalanced result. The ratio between diameter and thickness seems to be nicer on the 43mm edition. However, this size requires a more robust wrist to have a comfortable wearing experience. Let’s say that with a wrist under 17.5cm, the 39mm is more than recommended. The very curved lugs however help to place the watch correctly on the wrist.
The shape of the case is pleasant and perfectly round. Both the bezel, the central part of the case and the caseback seem molded from a single block, without a single visible angle. The execution of the case, of the crystal or of the strap is perfect in every way. Adjustments are precise and polishing is superb. The strap, with a 18k gold pin-buckle, is also very qualitative but can look quite dreary, as it comes without stitching. Nothing wrong with that though, a strap is easy to change.
Together with the dial, the movement is the main novelty of the Jaquet Droz Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel. As part of the Swatch Group, Jaquet Droz can rely on a high-standard Swiss manufacture, Frederic Piguet, now part of Blancpain. Benefiting of group’s synergies, Jaquet Droz was using a movement called ‘calibre 2663′ (reviewed here and here), based on the well-known FP1150 (also used by Blancpain and Breguet). Now it’s time for Jaquet Droz to to stand on its own feet and to rely on an improved Piguet movement. The Calibre 2660Q2.p is a modern movement which comes with a number of interesting features, such as a double barrel (for 68 hours of power reserve), a self-winding mechanism with central rotor and, most notably, an antimagnetic silicon balance, something that is slowly becoming a norm within the Swatch Group. It ticks at a fast and precise 28.800bph frequency.
Even if it remains based on the FP1150, Jaquet Droz chose to add its own decoration, a slightly different shape of the bridges and a new rotor. The finishing is really pleasant with star-shaped Geneva-Stripes (starting from the center of the balance wheel), bevelled angles on the bridges and circular graining on the main plate and bridges (both on the upper and lower sides and on hidden parts). The 18K red Gold rotor shows a skeletonized shape with superb polished angles and a nice 3D engraving.
On the wrist
Despite its quite impressive diameter – 43mm – this watch does not feel oversized. Combining the pleasant visual effect of a large dial and the comfort of the curved lugs, this is definitely a good size. However, is it the best size?
We also tried the 39mm edition. For sure, it looks a bit more classy and elegant on the wrist. However, 2 aspects make us think that both watches are interesting. With the 39mm, the sub-dials feel more tightened, embed in the dial. The space around them in the 43mm edition contributes to the visual pleasure. Then, the 39mm edition feels somewhat unbalanced due a different diameter / thickness ratio. On the overall, the 43mm diameter looks more appropriate. Both watches have strengths: the pleasure of a smaller and dressier watch for the 39mm, a more balanced visual feeling for the 43mm. The best is for sure to go to your local dealer and to choose the one that suits you the best.
Jaquet Droz with its Grande Seconde Quantieme Ivory Enamel just did it right. Even if the brand does have a relatively low profile in Europe, this new edition was extremely well welcomed by the industry and aficionados. Several reasons for that: a superb dial, a quality set to very high-standards, an interesting movement with nice finishes and modern features. The overall partition is well played and the music is pleasant to hear. The only remaining question is that of which size is the right size, something which will clearly be the choice of the future owner.
The 43mm edition is priced at 17.600 Euros and the 39mm is priced at 17.200 Euros.
- Superb dial
- Great combination of ivory enamel and red gold
- Perfect execution of the finishes (assembly, polishing)
- Interesting movement with nice finishings
- Comfort for such a large watch
- A brand maybe not enough known for certain collectors, no matter the quality of this piece
- A quite heavy watch